New Twist on Fast Data Transfers
How would you like to transfer vast amounts of data in just a few seconds? Move massive files from one location to another in the time it takes to send an e-mail? It may be possible in some scenarios thanks to the work of an international research team published in the June 24 issue of Nature Photonics. Using beam-twisting phase holograms, the team was able to twist light beams into a helical shape to create a data stream channel that could transfer multiple terabits of data each second.
The researchers included representatives from the University of Southern California, China, Israel, and Pakistan. Laboratory tests of this “twisted light” method of transmitting data can reach speeds of 2.56 terabits per second (Tbps), which is 85,000 times faster than current broadband speeds. Data was beamed across open space during the tests.
According to the researchers, the “twists” in the laser beams used to transmit data create a new data stream channel “without the need for more bandwidth.” The researchers prepared eight light beams with set orbital angular momentum (OAM) twists that can be arranged into a single beam.
But here’s the bad news: Atmospheric conditions interfere with the beams, except over very short distances. It would, however, work very well in space, which is why DARPA is giving it a look as a way to communicate between satellites. Potentially, the technology could be used to create high-speed satellite links, short-distance terrestrial links, or be adapted for use in fiber optic cables.
Source: Nature Photonics